There are a few words and phrases that I avoid using because they've become used more than they've been understood. "Authentic self" is one of them but I'm going to use it today because I feel that there are things that need to be said.
So let's be clear about what I mean when I talk about your authentic self. When you step into your authentic self, become authentic or behave in an authentic manner, it has little do with enlightenment and being one up on other people on spiritual paths and a whole lot to do with dropping your masks. It means being the same person with friends, family, strangers and most importantly, yourself. It means that you trust the Universe enough to let go of the walls you have built to prevent yourself from being hurt or judged and you just let it all show.
So now that we've all read the fineprint let's get to the point. When you step into that authentic self, you allow your soul to shine through... not just your personality but all of you. There's an enormous amount of vulnerability in doing that. We're so conditioned to worry about what other people think that it's really hard to let go of that.
But once you do it, two things are guaranteed to happen. There will be people who don't like you and you will get hurt sometimes. That's okay... Take their words into account, analyse them for truth and if there is some decide what you want to do with it. In many cases, there will be absolutely no truth and then you just let them carry on with their path because their actions say nothing about you and everything about them.
The second thing that will happen - and this is the thing that makes everything else worthwhile - is that the most amazing people will be drawn to you. You'll start connecting with people on a soul level, people who understand you, who just get it. Those connections may last a lifetime or they may last for the space of a conversation.
Here's the beauty of it though... when you expose your soul, the Universe opens up this whole realm of synchronicity to you. When you expose your soul, the Universe reaches out and lifts you higher and higher. Gratitude and joy move away from needing to be conscious decisions and become your default because that is suddenly the state you live in. When you need a kind word, you'll get it. When you need to feel loved, you'll be loved. When you need a sign, it'll be clear.
Stepping into your authentic self is not about telling people that you've arrived at enlightenment, it's about opening a window and letting in the beautiful fresh air that blows all the cobwebs out of your life. That's the secret really... it's all about trust and taking a risk. And when you do that, beautiful things start to fall into place because you are no longer operating from a place of fear but from a place of acceptance and love of yourself.